Texas junior Senator Ted Cruz will take center stage at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), beginning Thursday. Cruz will undoubtedly continue his crusade against government spending, as he did yesterday when he called on Congress to defund Obamacare because it “hurts everybody struggling to climb the economic ladder,” in his first Senate speech.
Texas is also drawing attention from Battleground Texas, a Democratic advocacy group that hopes to loosen the GOP’s grip on rapidly growing Texas, a state that last voted for a Democrat president in 1976. Battleground Texas wants to establish a “surefire road to the White House” by registering and mobilizing Texans to vote blue.
But if Texas embraces Washington, D.C., and its profligate spending, as Battleground hopes, Texas’ prosperity will be threatened. Texans, both red AND blue, should continue to embrace fiscally sound, limited government, which has been absent during the Bush and Obama administrations, but has allowed Texas' economy to boom.
Battleground sees Texas’ diverse demography as an opportunity for Democrats. Thirty-eight percent of Texans are Hispanic, while 12.2% are black, making Texas a majority-minority state. These constituencies voted resoundingly Democratic in 2012, with 71% of Hispanics and 93% of blacks voting for President Obama’s re-election. It’s little wonder Battleground Texas Founder Jeremy Bird sees Texas’ 38 electoral votes as attainable if Battleground can get more Texans from these groups to vote.
But Battleground’s yearning to make irresponsible spending appeal to Texans will only take Texans further from the reduced government spending that actually fosters economic growth.
As Cato Institute Fellow Dan Mitchell notes, the Reagan and Clinton administrations reduced government spending and even generated surpluses, but the Bush and Obama administrations have replaced these gains with unsustainable spending and huge deficits. Yet, the economic growth experienced under Reagan and Clinton is more than twice the growth experienced under Bush and Obama. And although Obama inherited a recession, the economy has recovered more slowly under his policies than under any president that has dealt with a recession over the past 65 years. This is in spite of Obama’s $787 billion stimulus that created fewer jobs than promised, except perhaps in six of the United State’s 25 richest counties surrounding Washington, D.C., that are enriched by the federal government.
Texas, on the other hand, has prospered while maintaining low government spending. Texas had the fourth lowest state and local government spending in 2011, and its Gross Domestic Product grew 3.3% to $1.15 trillion, 34 times that of North Dakota, the fastest growing state in 2011. This growth goes far for Texans given the state’s low cost of living. Moreover, 23.8% of Texas’ budget funds Medicaid, a program where the federal government encourages budget-busting state spending to provide inferior access to medical care. And yet, the feds want Texas to expand Medicaid without considering any consumer driven health care reforms that would help Texas more by addressing exploding health care prices.
Government spending, contrary to what those who embrace D.C. style irresponsibility say, does not foster growth; it dampens it. Texas has enjoyed economic growth by letting Texans spend their resources for themselves. Texans must resist the unsustainable government spending peddled by politicians in D.C. that Battleground Texas hopes to entrench nationally and establish in the Lone Star State. Texas’ continued prosperity depends on it.